I have a string containing several items listed in the following notation:

myString = '[A][B][C]'

And I would like to parse that to a python list of several strings:

['A', 'B', 'C']

I know this can be solved with:

myString = myString.lstrip('[')
myString = myString.rstrip(']')
myList = myString.split('][')

I'd just like to know if there is an even more pythonic way of doing it. Compare https://stackoverflow.com/a/1653143/10983441 where the most elegant way in the end was to use pyparsing with nestedExpr.


2 Answers 2


If you have a regular pattern that describes what you want to do with a string, using a regular expression (regex) is usually a good idea. In addition to using re.split, as shown in another answer by @python_user, you can also use re.findall, which has the advantage that you don't have to manually deal with the opening and closing delimiters:

import re
re.findall('\[(.)\]', '[A][B][C]')
# ['A', 'B', 'C']

This finds all single characters (.), which are surrounded by square parenthesis (\[...\]) and selects only the character itself ((.)).

If you want to allow more than one character between the parenthesis, you need to use a non-greedy version of *, the *?:

re.findall('\[(.*)\]', '[][a][a2][+%]')
# ['][a][a2][+%']

re.findall('\[(.*?)\]', '[][a][a2][+%]')
# ['', 'a', 'a2', '+%']

Regarding your code itself, Python has an official style-guide, PEP8, which recommends using lower_case instead of pascalCase for variables and functions.

You could also chain your calls together without sacrificing too much readability (even gaining some, arguably):

my_list = my_string.lstrip('[').rstrip(']').split('][')
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ seeing this answer makes me want to up my regex game :D \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2021 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ normal strip can be used instead of rstrip and lstrip: my_list = my_string.strip("][").split("]["), but string slicing could be used instead: my_list = my_string[1:-1].split("][") \$\endgroup\$ Jan 14, 2021 at 21:33

A Regex based solution

>>> my_string_one
>>> re.split(r"\[([A-Z])\]", my_string_one)[1:-1:2]
['A', 'B', 'C']
>>> my_string_two
>>> re.split(r"\[([A-Z])\]", my_string_two)[1:-1:2]
['A', 'B', 'C', 'D', 'E']

You can use re.split with the expression \[([A-Z])\ having a capture group for the uppercase letters. This is under the assumption that your strings always follow this pattern otherwise you may not get what you expect.


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